Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church

Growing Roots

Psalm 8

As most of you know... I've been on vacation this past week. Don't I look rested? That's a joke, folks! Like most vacations... I need to come back to work to get rested!

My grandson has been with me this past week... and I've already warned him that I would probably embarrass him this morning. If you haven't already met him... please be sure to say hello to him after the service. Actually... I have to take him to the airport immediately after the service... or he will miss his plane... and he already had that adventure on his way down here last Sunday!

We've had a great week. I don't know how many of you have been blessed with a grandchild who seems to like being in your company... but Michael and I have always seemed to hit it off. I haven't really spent time with him since he came to New Orleans with me in 1991 but our visit this past week was just as congenial... and it seemed as though no time had passed at all since we last were together. We must have traveled at least a thousand miles this past week... just running around the New Orleans area and to the Gulf Coast. And besides that... with Dave's help... we have moved all the furniture in the living and dining rooms of our house... and painted the walls! Did I say something about looking rested?

Yesterday... Michael wanted to run around returning things he had bought earlier in the week... and buying other things instead... and so we found ourselves in the warehouse district while he ran into the Riverwalk. Outside a coffee shop on one of those streets that originally ran through the site of the 1984 World Exposition, I saw some ferns growing in the cracks of a brick wall. Now... I am an absolute sucker for ferns... no pun intended... so I walked over to investigate just how these things were attached to the brick wall. As I pulled the fern aside to look at its base... where I thought, of course, that the root went into the mortar... the entire frond snapped off in my hand! Needless to say... I looked guiltily around to see if anyone saw me with that huge fern in my hand. Generally speaking... I don't think you are suppose to remove the flora and fauna from it's original site... so I said loudly, "Look what happen! I was just trying to look at it's root... and it snapped off in my hand!" No one seemed to be paying any attention... so I just walked off... carrying it with me. Can you believe it... it had no root... and I honestly don't know just what I should do with it! Last night I stuck it into a jar of water with some rooting solution added to it. If it grows some roots I'll plant it by our house... and maybe one day we'll have ferns growing in the mortar of our brinks too... and I'll bet my husband will just love that!

Today I am suppose to be talking about our relationship with God... how important it is to us... how gracious God has been to human kind... making us just a little lower than the angels who stand constantly in his presence. Psalm 8 is a joyous hymn... blessing God for his glorious work of creation... and celebrating the very special relationship he has established with us... the people he created... the crowning glory of his marvelous creation.

There is no doubt about it... God's glory is revealed in his creation... from the millions of stars that appear in the midnight sky... those tiny specks of distant light that have lured men since ancient times... to the cry of a newborn infant... that most impressive of all miracles.

1 ...You have set your glory above the heavens; from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise.
The psalmist goes on to say:
3 ...what is man that you are mindful of him? And yet the fact remains...
5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet...

Does it surprise you that God has allowed us to learn so much about his creation? That we have been able to make so much progress in the twentieth century? That we have been so successful in penetrating space? That in the twenty-first century it is likely we will make even more progress in our knowledge of the universe... and our efforts to conquer space? After all... that is our purpose in this world... to glorify God as we care for... explore... make use of the wonders of God's creation!

I suppose I could go on and give you a sermon on our responsibilities for taking care of the earth and its environment. That seems to be running a poor second to our desire to explore and exploit the creation. But that will have to be another day... I only have one page left to make my point this morning!

I began this morning by telling you about the fern that grew on the brick wall without any roots... adhering precariously to the brick and mortar. I was reminded by that fern of how we human beings tend generally to relate to God as we go about the business of exploring his creation. Oh... I know that we are all attached somewhere... somehow... to him. After all... he is the source of our lives. But I can't help wondering about our root system!

Are we like the fern... with no roots of our own. Can our connection to the root of our being be broken with the slightest snap... caused by some external circumstance? Are we exploring God's immense universe... examining God's amazing creation... exploiting God's precious earth with no root... or relationship to God? I'm afraid that 99.9 percent of the time... that's exactly what we human beings are doing... that's exactly how we live our lives!

So my question for you this morning is... how do we grow roots... how do we relate to God in such a way as to avoid being snapped from the source of our nourishment by the hand of some passerby... by some external event over which we have no control?

This past week... Michael and I took a tour of the swamp on an airboat. It seems that our swamps and wetlands are suffering from the lack of rain as much... or maybe more... than our lawns. At least we can water our lawns! The swamps seem to be either expanses of water... or wetlands with an extremely low water level. Naturally... the airboat skimmed over the water like a speed boat... and the ride was exhilarating with the wind blowing in our faces. But when we tried to navigate the wetlands... the going really got tough. Our captain was very experienced and he knew exactly how to take advantage of every tiny water hole to give the boat an extra boost... and... of course... the boat is designed to travel over land as well as water. But without that huge fan moving the air... and the captains expertise in using the wind created by the fan... that boat would have stalled somewhere out there in the swamp and we would have been stranded!

Do you get the connection? There is a wind that keeps us going... there is a captain who knows what he is doing! Our connection to God... our root system... is developed and sustained by the wind of the Spirit which never ceases to blow... and Christ... who is our Captain... leading... guiding... and directing us on our way.

The world needs that wind... and that Captain... if we hope to continue pursuing our God given purpose. We desperately need to be rooted firmly in God... who created us... and who graciously has given us an experienced Captain in Jesus Christ and the wind of the Spirit to sustain us and keep us going.

May we each be firmly rooted in God... and may we each do everything in our power to help others know the true source of their being. Amen.

A Sermon Preached on May 30, 1999
The Rev. Shirley R. Frazier
Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church, Arabi, LA

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